We’ve spoken about the head covering for the past 6 (or 6.5) posts but then we get to this verse from Paul,
For her hair is given to her for a covering.
– 1 Corinthians 11:15a NASB
So, the question now is, Can her hair be the covering?
Let’s read the complete verse and put it in context:
Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
– 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 NASB
Before I move on, let me explain the word “nature” for a moment. As a byproduct of the re-defining that modern science has done to certain terminology, when we read the word, “nature” we automatically tie it to “mother nature” and as though creation is unattached to its creator. This isn’t the case at all here. When Paul says, “nature”, he is basically saying, “the order that God has put in His creation”.
Now, regarding her hair being given to her as a covering, does that negate the need for a veil or head covering then?
I think Paul would be a lunatic if that’s what he is saying and let me explain why. He says,
For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off …
– 1 Corinthians 11:6a NASB
If he is talking about her hair, this verse makes no sense at all. It would be as though he is saying, “For if a woman does not have hair on her head, let her also have her hair cut off…”
Sorry, what? If she doesn’t have hair on her head, let her cut it off?
This is just one example. A similar problem occurs in verse 5 and then in verse 10. Basically, if her hair is the covering that Paul is speaking about, the passage falls apart because there will never be a case when her head is uncovered, unless, of course, her head is shaved (which, if true, means Paul spends half the passage saying nothing at all as in the example above).
Another perspective on this could be, “Paul isn’t saying the head covering is her hair, but he is saying that her hair could be used as an alternative.”
A good point, but one I’d have to disagree with, nonetheless. My reason for that follows on from the point made in the last part of the series concerning the purpose for the head covering.
The woman is to wear the head covering so that the man, under whose authority she is, is not disgraced.
So, my understanding of the passage is that the woman wears a veil so that the man isn’t disgraced, but as for her and her disgrace, her hair has been given to her as a covering. That’s why Paul says,
… if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her …
– 1 Corinthians 11:15a NASB
Remember when Paul spoke about the glories before?
- Man is the image and glory of God
- Woman is the glory of man
- A women’s hair is her glory
For these three reasons, the head covering is mentioned and kept. Before the angels, the order is important. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of a woman.
The veil or head covering is for the man. Her hair is for her.